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Kansas bank teller derails unfolding con game

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- A suspicious bank teller stopped a customer from being conned into withdrawing money from his account to prove that U.S. banks are safe, police say.

The ruse was foiled Tuesday when the 19-year-old customer at Commerce Bank in Wichita explained what he was doing to the teller, who then called 911, Lt. Doug Nolte said. The con artists fled, likely because they became suspicious when their intended victim stayed inside the bank, he said.

Police want to hear from anyone else who may have been victimized, noting the scam has been used before in Wichita.

The Wichita Eagle ( ) reported the victim was initially approached at a post office by a man claiming to be from South Africa, and said his brother had died and left him $150,000.

After the victim agreed to give him a ride, they stopped at a convenience store where a second suspect struck up what looked to be a spontaneous conversation. One of the suspects told the other he needed to convert the cash to traveler's checks, police said.

They drove to a bank where one suspect said that if they made the withdrawals, he would make donations to the churches of the other suspect and the driver. They went to one bank where one of the suspects returned waving cash to make it appear he had made a withdrawal, according to police reports.

They went to the intended victim's bank, where police say the teller foiled the plot.